Friday, November 29, 2013

So Much to Be Thankful For

As hard as it is to believe another Thanksgiving has come and gone. It fell late in November this year which leaves a very short time to get ready for Christmas. With that in mind I started early this morning determined to finish all of my decorating today. To get myself in the "spirit" I pulled out all of my Christmas cd's to listen to as I began to decorate. I have several that I like, but my favorite is Josh Groban's Noel, so I put it in first. I've probably listened to that cd a hundred times and know every song that's on it, but for some reason this morning the sixth song, Thankful, caught my attention. I stopped what I was doing, replayed the song, and really listened to the words. I suddenly realized what a wonderful song this is for moving from the Thanksgiving season into the Christmas season. I also felt like it contained a message meant specifically for me this year..."There's so much to be thankful for."

We celebrated our fifth Thanksgiving without Eddie yesterday, and as always his absence was felt especially at the dinner table. I hurt for Trey because I know how much he still misses his father. I felt regret that Emily will never have the chance to get to know her "Papi." I thought about Eddie's parents and how unbelievably difficult losing a child (regardless of the age) must be. But for the first time I did not cry, and I didn't feel any sadness for myself. As I shared recently, I've been struggling with some renewed feelings of anger, resentment, and blame. I know that can be expected from time to time in the years following a loss of any kind, but what I needed to realize is that I cannot let myself get too wrapped up in those feelings again or they will take over completely. I received that message "loud and clear" through these words from Josh Groban's Thankful...

"Some days we forget to look around us
Some days we can't see the joy that surrounds us
So caught up inside ourselves
We take when we should give
So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
Look beyond ourselves...
Each of us must find our truth
We're so long overdue...
And even though we all can still do more
There's so much to be thankful for."
So with those words in mind I went back and looked at the pictures we had taken after dinner last night and saw exactly what this song was telling me...I was surrounded by joy. I had my 98-year old grandmother with me for yet another celebration. I had both of my parents here - each doing exceptionally well under the circumstances. My son who, despite his own trials and losses, has grown into a hard-working man and father was  at home. And my granddaughter, who is growing up way too fast, was here to remind us all of what life is really about. We had more food than we could possibly eat, good conversation mixed with laughter over memories from the past, a comfortable living room where we could relax and watch the traditional Thanksgiving day football games on television, and a fire (complete with the new puppy sleeping in front of it) to keep us warm.

In addition to what I saw in the pictures from last night I thought about what I have to look forward to. In the immediate future I have some very dear and special friends coming from "home" tomorrow to go to Fantasy in Lights and spend the night with me. I have dinner and a show at the River Center next week with a group of great friends who always make me smile and laugh. I have weekly get-togethers for dinner, social time, football (or any other reason) with some new friends who I feel like I've known all my life. Of course there will be plenty of Christmas parties and visits with friends and relatives to keep me busy during this next month. Looking ahead I've already planned a trip with friends from Hazlehurst to see Cher in concert in Jacksonville next May as well as another girls' vacation to Cozumel in July and hopefully a trip to New York next December. And in the not-too-distant future (June 2015 to be exact) I can officially retire! Then who knows...

My life may not have turned out exactly as I expected or planned. I  may have had things happen that I didn't choose and that I don't like. I may not be able to control how I feel (or sometimes even what I say) all of the time. And I certainly don't know everything the future holds. But I do know this about the present..."There's so much to be thankful for."

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